Walk Again was created to give hope to those SCI patients who dream of recovery. Through intense exercise based therapy programs, a much improved quality of life can be achieved by encouragement, education, support and self belief.  If you believe you will walk again we want to support you and believe with you.

Kevin's Story

Each year 15,000 people suffer from spinal cord injury.  This is the story of one.

Many of you may not know exactly what happened to me or how it changed our family forever.  Here is my story:

We had just moved from Ohio to start a new life in Idaho.   I think we were in our new house for about one and half weeks when it happened.  My wife was in the shower while I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes.  We were planning a trip to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things for our new home.

While doing the dishes, I slipped in some water and hit the floor hard with my right knee.  My daughter Rosebud ran into the bathroom to get my wife.  Kathy came into the kitchen to wipe the water up and helped me get up.

I bent my knee back and forth several times and thought, "Ouch that hurt".  No big deal; I went about our business for the day, heading to Wal-Mart.  The rest of the day I did not give much thought as to what had happened.  I was not in any pain at this point.

That night when we went to bed, my back suddenly screamed in pain.  I tried to get comfortable and couldn't.  I finally told my wife that neither of us were going to get any sleep and we should drive to the emergency room.  I figured they would take an x-ray and prescribe some pain medication.

As I suspected the hospital did some x-rays and prescribed some vicodin and then sent me home.   

My back hurt so bad I was forced to sleep on the couch on multiple sofa cushions.  By the next day I was in about as much pain as I could bear.  We went back to the emergency room.  More tests: , x-rays, cat scans, blood work etc.  Nothing!  They couldn't find a thing wrong.  My wife suggested a muscle relaxer.  The doctor thought it was worth a try and 30 minutes later the pain had subsided.

When we returned home I was able to do a few chores.  I certainly did not want to aggravate my back and return to the same pain level I had. That evening when I went to bed, the pain was worse than ever.

It did not take long to decide that I needed to go back to the hospital.  It was all I could do to get into the car...every move, every twist I literally screamed out in pain. 

When we arrived at the hospital; the emergency room was packed.  I decided to stay in the van...it hurt too much to move.  The nurse did come out to the van and take my vitals and told me I could stay there and she would come and get me when they were ready for me.

Sometime later she came out...I stepped out of the car very slowly...the pain was about to make me pass out.  I sat on a gurney...and she wheeled me in. 

Soon the doctor arrived and prescribed me some pain medication. A few moments later the nurse was there to give me an injection.  The medication did not work.  They pumped more and more pain medication into me until I dosed off to sleep. 

An x-ray technician woke me up and we headed into the x-ray room.  Once we arrived the x-ray technician told me, "the last time you were here you laid down for the x-ray, so this time lets have you stand up to see if we can see something different."  Slowly, I stood up and moved over to the x-ray machine.  The x-ray technician positioned me and took the x-ray.  The pain was starting to come back again so I sat back down while the technician went to check the films.  He come back in and said he was sorry but we had to do it again..."HOLD YOUR BREATH"...

This is the last thing I remember before being woke at about 4:30AM by my wife Kathy.  The first thing I noticed is they moved me to a room.  My wife told me that they were going to admit me for pain management and that she was going to go home but would be back later. She kissed me and left.


Now wide awake and the pain was suddenly gone.  I was in a heap on my stomach and tried to roll over and sit up.  This was it...I realized I could not move my legs.  I screamed and the nurse's came running...they flipped me on my back and started poking me all over.  My legs felt like they were floating in the air.

The next thing I knew I was in an ambulance going 75MPH down the highway to St. Alphonus hospital in Boise, ID.  After I arrived, they ran more tests.  MRI's, Cat-scans, blood work, spinal taps and more.  Finally some answers, right?  Not exactly.  I could not move my legs.   Back surgeons, neurologists and other doctors came to my bedside.  They would just shake their heads.  They could not figure out what caused it. 

After a couple scrapes with death and about 4 weeks later I was admitted to rehab.  The therapist were very nice and I loved my nurses; Loretta and Brett. Those two, I will never forget.   The problem I had with rehab was the goals of the rehab team and my goals did not match.  They would ask me, "Kevin what are your goals?"  I would answer every time, "I want to walk!"  They would say, "OK lets go lift weights."  You see they were interested and trained to teach me how to improve my quality of life while remaining in a wheelchair.  I was interested in walking.

After about 6 weeks I flew to Seattle, WA to be part of their spinal cord injury program.  I was excited...finally some answers.  These guys deal with spinal cord injuries all the time.  After a week they had finished all of their assessments and tests the doctor came in to talk to me.  I thought this was going to be a good day...

I said, "Dr. Little, what's the prognosis?"  He paused and looked at me for about 10 seconds.  Then he spoke very softly with a slight smile and said, "Kevin, I do not have a prognosis because {another pause} I have no diagnosis."  TWO SPINAL CORD INJURY HOSPITALS and no one can tell me what happened.

Physical therapy at the VA Hospital in Seattle, WA was very similar to that of St. Alphonus Hospital in Boise, ID.  It seemed once again my goals would be separate from those of my therapists.  Quality of life seems to be the norm in physical therapy.  I want to get better...I want to walk out of this chair and walk my daughters down the isle.  My oldest daughter will be 18 soon, I cannot miss that date. 

I understand that there are things that I must do in order to function.  I need to get strong, I need to be as mobile and independent as possible.  I would often ask what the plan was.  I was told, "Well, Kevin, today we are going to lift weights."   This was my struggle.   I have nothing but good things to say about all those nurses, doctors and therapist that tried to work with me, however, my goals and their goals were often times different. 

Finally, it was time to go home.  The SCI Unit at the Seattle VA Hospital presented me with a certificate.  My wife had flown out to meet me.  We rented a car and she drove us home.  Instantly we began to realize how different it was than before.  Not our love for each other or anything like that but just how different it was to do things.  It took us a bit longer for me to transfer into the car than I expected, then my wife loaded the car while I sat there helpless.

A few hours into our trip I had to go to the bathroom.  When I was on my feet I never gave it a thought I just went in and took care of my business.  At that time I we did not know how to handle these things so I just held it all the way home.  Getting in the car is a huge challenge.  Initially, we used to go across the street to the school where the curb was high.  My cousin made me a slider board and I can use it to slide from my chair into the car.  It took a lot of effort but we managed.  I remember a time when we first got home and my family and I went out to dinner.  We could not find a curb high enough in order for me to get back in so we ended up coming back home.  This was really difficult for my children.  It was difficult for all of us.

With a lot of work I was finally able to get in and out of the car no matter where I was.  Some days it is easier than others to get into the car.   A lot of help and a lot of love from my wife and my children...we work things out.

I will never forget the day my son Nick was helping me get out of our van.  I was thinking how proud I was of him at that moment. I told him how much I loved him and appreciated him. "Nick you better never move out." I told him with a half cocked smile on my face.  My joke was no joke to him; without hesitation he responded, "Dad, I already decided when this happened to you that I was not moving out until you walk again."  To this day it brings tears to my eyes every time I remember that moment. 

Through all of this, the blessings I realized is how much God loved me and how much my family loved me.  Neither would leave me.

Back when all of this first happened...as I left the emergency room...someone asked the people pushing my bed, "where is he going?"  They responded, "he is going to ICU."  ICU, I thought, this is must be serious.  Soon I was surrounded by my family.  My little sister, Kimmie was there.  She knew we had just moved here and not yet found a church.  She asked me if she could call some people...I said yes.  Within an hour Pastor Adams from the Community Bible Church in Emmett was in my room.  As I recall he came right to my bedside and introduced himself.  I held his hand...in fact I held everyone's hand that would come into my room, the doctor, the nurse it didn't matter. 

Pastor Adams prayed with me and told me he would be back.  He did come back; in fact every day that I was in the hospital at St. Alphonus, either him or his son Pastor Melvin would come in and see me.  If they couldn't make it they called me.  Sometimes I would wake up to find young Pastor Melvin sitting in the chair reading his Bible or having a look at the TV.  He would visit for awhile and we would share stories and pray together. 

They eventually moved me out from ICU just down the hall.  This was about 2 weeks later.  They got me into a Geri Chair.  This was not very comfortable, but at least I got to sit upright.  A few days later, I started having trouble breathing.  My wife found Dr. Sousa; he was the doctor following me since I first arrived at the hospital.  I remember my room filling with people, all kinds of specialists, my family, etc.  I saw my wife and my sister Glenda and they were crying.  I had a feeling deep in side that I was going to die.   I kept slipping in and out of consciousness.  Dr. Sousa began to speak to me...it sounded as if he was very far away...my chest was tight and it felt like a huge gorilla was sitting on my chest squeezing all the air out.  Dr. Sousa said, "Kevin...Kevin...listen to me...you are either having a heart attack or pulmonary embolism (blood clot in my lung)...I'm taking you to the cardiac unit for surgery."  My God what was happening, I begin to pray...and then I would pass out and awake again.  Kathy leaned over the bed rail and kissed me.  I could here lots of talking.  The next thing I remember...I saw lights above my head moving past me very fast...it was almost as if I was watching a movie.  I heard the ding of the elevator.  Somehow I got the impression that there was a nurse with me in the elevator and she kept yelling for my vitals. 

That was it, I must of passed out again.  This time I woke to someone saying, "Kevin, Dr. Sousa wants us to put a tube in."  I didn't open my eyes; I wasn't even sure what they meant by a tube.  I was out again...then I saw a bright light...and I heard a loud voice, "KEVIN KEVIN KEVIN...ARE YOU ALRIGHT?"  I took a deep breath...no pain and I could breath.  Was I dead?  "Yes, I am alright...whose there.", I asked.  The voice answered, "I am Dr Christ, Dr Sousa sent me."  I am dead...I struggled to open my eyes.  But I couldn't, was I in Heaven?  All of a sudden I opened my eyes and saw my mother.  She was the only one in this tiny room.  I asked her where I was and she said in the cardiac unit.  She told me that Dr. Priest (not Dr. Christ) had just come in to check on me.  Dr. Priest was the cardiologist on duty.  I looked around and noticed there was a curtain that covered the doorway into the room and a large glass window. 

Suddenly, Dr. Sousa, a familiar face was looking through the glass window at me.  He had the biggest grin on his face and shot me a salute.  I was thinking what is this guy so happy for.  A few minutes later he appeared from behind the curtain.   He moved to the foot of my bed and still smiling he said, "No heart attack, no pulmonary embolism..."  He made a motion with his hands to show me and said, "your stomach was filled with fluid and was as big as a basketball, we pumped over 5 pounds of fluid out of your stomach in less than 15 minutes.  Another 30 minutes and I might not of been able to tell you what happened." 

As it turned out my large intestine was paralyzed.  The doctors kept the tube in my nose for weeks...they fed me through my veins...while they tried to figure out how to bring my large intestine back to life.   If you have ever had a tube in your nose then you understand the pain and discomfort I was in.  Here is a link of an animation of one being inserted.  Finally, the doctor allowed me popsicles to help numb the back of my throat.  The kitchen told me that in one week I ate over 200 popsicles.  They all tasted the same, but my throat sure felt better.

One day the gastologist came to my room and said I want to try this drug (I will have to figure out what it is and update this page), he told me that he believed it would wake up my large intestine.  He did not know much about it except that the mortality rate was 12% and he had administrated it 5 times.  YIKES!   They moved me to the telemetry unit...it was a unit that they could monitor my vitals via satellite.  My wife was there.  They wanted to make sure my heart rate didn't drop below 70 beats per minute.  If it did they had a syringe taped to my bed that they could use to hopefully restart my heart.

It took four minutes to inject the drug into my arm.  Almost immediately I could see my muscles twitching in my hands and arms.   My tongue felt like a bunch of tiny fish hooks snagged the top of my tongue and it was bobbing up and down like a string puppet.   Suddenly, it felt like someone had reached inside of my gut and was trying to rip my insides out.  The pain brought fear and panic.  The nurse ran out of the room and came back a few minutes later.  She said, "I just looked it up on the internet (on the INTERNET oh great)", she said, "the pain is normal and it should work its way down.  The medication will stay in your system for about 5 hours."   5 hours!  I may just pass out...turns out after 45 minutes the pain was gone and a band of nurses was in my room cleaning up what had been stuck inside me.  And boy did I feel good.  :)

A few days later the doctor wanted to try the medicine again.  The nurse on duty, I just didn't feel comfortable with and I asked the doctor if I could wait.  He said that would be fine we will do it tomorrow. The next day the doctor came into my room and told me the best news I had heard in a long while, "Kevin how about we get that tube out?" As it turns out I didn't need the drug my large intestine started to work again.  He ordered me a strawberry milkshake and told me that he would increase my food as I could tolerate it.  My nose and throat was sore for several days after the tube was out.

A few days later I was moved to the rehabilitation program.  This is where I met Loretta my nurse and Brent my CNA.  They were both wonderful people.  I had my first shower in over a month...I must have been in there at least 30 minutes.  Those sponge baths don't really do the job...like a nice hot shower.

Although, the staff was fabulous, rehab was a bit disappointing.   It seemed that I really didn't get much rehab and again their goals were different than mine.   My brother-in-law Mike would come visit me and tell me that I needed to get out and he would help me with my rehab.  But, life happened and he was too busy.  That's okay...I know he meant well and really wanted to help me.

Today, things are easier, especially with each small gain I make.  One thing I really notice is how much my balance has improved.  I remember the first time I sat on the edge of my bed at St. Alphonus...I nearly fell straight forward on the floor...my physical therapists' quick reaction saved me from a busted head.  Now, I can sit up anywhere and stretch and reach.

Walk Again Foundation, Inc. 2008 - 20010 All rights reserved